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Cracking day for Junior 1000 Ecosse Challenge crews at the Memorial Garden Stages Junior Rally near Arbroath on 15th September 2018. This would be the first event that Condor Motorsport Club would run under their own banner at the Condor base. The aerodrome part of the MOD base is a perfect location for a single venue rally but parts of it have been known to cut up badly and this affected the total number of entries. But reports from competitors were very positive on the day and the organisers had listened to previous feedback and dropped some parts and added other better roads. The organisers must be praised for putting on such an enjoyable event.

The Junior contingent of 10 cars were first out on the stages and a pattern started to develop right from the start. Lewis Haining/George Myatt hustled their Skoda Citigo round the first 2 stages to give them a 3 second lead over Johnnie Mackay/Gordon Reid (Suzuki Alto). But not without drama. The “green machine” of Hailing appeared back in service minus some bodywork after an argument with one of the large marker tyres. But Dad and Chief Mechanic Iain Haining soon had the Citigo back in shape when the stage recovery crew returned the missing bits of bodywork!! Haining then went on to build up his lead over the next 4 stages to win by 22 seconds from Andrew Blackwood/Richard Stewart (Citroen C1) A very happy Haining commented at the end “We have done it! My second junior rally victory! After the Solway Coast retirement it’s good to come back with a win!”

After a good first 2 stages, Mackay seemed to go “off the boil” and gradually came within the clutches of Blackwood who whittled Mackay’s 21 second advantage after stage 1 and 2 down to 1 second over stages 3 and 4. Mackay made an unusual error in stage 5 and that set him back even further losing 14 seconds to a hard charging Blackwood. More dropped time on stage 6 left Mackay/Reid in 3rd place, 21 seconds behind Blackwood. After Mackay’s dramatic exit from the previous weekend’s Galloway Hills Rally, he has to be credited with just going out for as many points as he could secure. Job done there.

And what about “young” Blackwood? Well we know he can switch it on (and at other times switch it off). The Memorial was a switched on day. He had a slow start – “we were a bit slow getting into it and used to how little grip there was “ – but got his finger out over the other 4 stages, equalling rally winner Haining’s time on stage 3, 1 second down on stage 4, 2 seconds up on stage 5 and 1 second up on stage 6!! That is quite a scorecard!! One happy chappie!!! Final comment from co-driver Stewart was “After stages 1 and 2 I told him that the quickest way through the chicanes was straight ahead rather than sideways – and this seemed to make a difference!!”

The pace for everyone was hot and I think that every car had a wee nudge at a bale or tyre at some point. Almost every car was sporting some black marks somewhere. But worst off was Fraser Anderson and “guest” co-driver for the day Ian Shiells. After a good run through stages 1 and 2 Anderson started to attack on stage 3 and caught one of the marker tyres which threw the car over on its side. It skidded along the tar for a bit and then – from the grass stuck under bits of the front of the car – onto the grass and over onto the other side. But the roof and co-driver’s door were unmarked!! Not a good result after a promising first outing in the Citroen C1 on the Solway Coast.

The results from Memorial Stages does open up the Championship positions. Mackay will still lead with Blackwood second and Haining third. But dropped scores will come into play from now on and every point will count over the final 2 rounds.

Next outing for the Junior 1000 Ecosse Challenge will be the Albar Kames Rally on 23rd September – 1 week away

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